FanPost

Steelers/Bengals Defensive Breakdown

Apologies for the late post, but illness (both physical and from the loss) have kept me a little behind in real life up until now.  Anyway, the Defense was on fire for parts of the game and colder than Plaxico Burress's jail cell for others (too soon on the Burress joke? As a Michigan fan, and it being Michigan State week, I had to take the shot).

Regardless, it can be seen Dick LeBeau is tinkering away at the rush schemes in an attempt at getting the pass rush working to perfection and piling up sacks quicker than Charles Rogers is DUIs (ok, that was uncalled for.  Maybe).  On to the review!

From now on the 3-4 is going to be referred to as the "Base" defense (for obvious reasons), or simply just "B".

Rushers will be indicated on passing plays; it's virtually impossible to tell who would rush the pass on running plays.

Drive 1.  Starting Point: Pittsburgh 49, 14:53, 1st Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10         B                              (1)                        Clark                Run Right (Benson)       N/A                  +1 pursuit

2&9           B                              (-1)                       Timmons        Run Left                            N/A                  +1 pursuit

3&10         1-5-5                       (--)                       Farrior              Pass Right              91, 99, 94, 92         +1 Farrior

 

Total Field Position Change: From Pittsburgh 49 to Pittsburgh 49; 0 yards total.  Defense on field for 1:40.

  • The defense looked very impressive here, as the pursuit to the ball on first and second down was impressive, not only on the frontside but the backside (contain) as well.  Farrior makes a great play in pass coverage to end the drive, knocking the ball away from Chris Henry.  Great stop as well when you factor in the field position the defense was put in.

Drive 2.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 22, 6:55, 1st Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10           B                          (--)                        Taylor               Pass Middle                     3-man       FALSE START next play

2&15           B                          (0)                         51/94               Run Middle (Benson)                     

3&15          1-5-5                    (--)                         N/A                   Pass Left                          4-man      91, 92, 51, 99 (stunt)

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 22 to Cincinnati 22; 0 yards total.  Defense on field for 1:23.

  • Once again, an impressive 3-and-out by the defense.  The "nickel" package is used on 3rd and long for the second straight series, this time with Keisel stunting around Smith, while both Farrior and Harrison blitzed from the linebacker position.

Drive 3.  Starting Point: Cincinatti 22, 1:02, 1st Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10           B                            (0)                       92/99                Run Right (Benson)                               +1 pursuit

2&10           B                            (-10)                    Hampton         Sack                      4-man (Woodley), 91 stunt, +1 Hampton

3&20           1-5-5                      (--)                       Clark                Pass Middle             91, 92, 94, 99        +1 Clark  

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 22 to Cincinnati 12, -10 yards total.  Defense on field for 1:07.

  • For the third straight series, the defense holds the Bengals to 3-and-out.  Through the First Quarter, the defense was on the field for 3:40 and held the Bengals to -10 offensive yards.  Big Snack recorded his first sack of the season, and Clark played the third down ball wonderfully, knocking it away from the intended receiver. 

Drive 4.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 10, 12:44, 2nd Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10          B                            (9)                        Gay                   Pass Left (85)           4-man (92, 51), Hampton drops

2&1            B                            (7)                         Taylor              Pass Left (85)            N/A                      -1 Taylor

1&10          B                            (2)                        Timmons        Run Right (Benson) 

2&8            B                            (7)                         Clark               Run Left (Benson)                                  Carter in box

3&1            B                            (2)                        Hampton         FB Dive (Johnson)                     

1&10         B                             (2)                        Timmons        Run Left (Benson)    23 in box, Reverse Faked, +1 Contain

2&8           B                             (--)                        N/A                   Pass Right                    CIN- 4-wide; 92 over slot, blitzes

3&8           1-5-5                      (21)                      Carter              Pass Middle (85)          5-man               +1 Taylor

1&10         B                             (7)                        Clark                Run Left (Benson)                        

2&3           B                              (N/A)                   Clark                Run Left (Benson)             Stab        HOLDING CIN

2&13        B                              (--)                       N/A                    Pass Right (85)                 Stab           CIN - 4-wide set

3&13        B                              (--)                       N/A                    Pass Middle (Caldwell)    Stab          +1 Pressure

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 10 to Pittsburgh 43, 47 yards total.  Defense on field for 5:55.

  • The Bengals finally get the offense clicking in a drive which would no doubt have resulted in points had the drive not began at their own 10 yard line.  Ike Taylor gets a +1 for essentially running 85's route for him on a 3rd and 8, and only a perfect throw by Palmer prevented another pass-breakup for the Steeler defense.  Twice Tyrone Carter walked up into the box; both times he was non-factors in the run plays (once getting blocked by a lineman getting to the second level), springing a 7 yard run.  Unsure if this was designed or Carter recognized what play was going to be run; either way, Carter cannot allow himself to be blocked, and if there's a breakdown of the D-Line enabling the Bengals OL to get to the second level.  Twice on this drive the Steelers lined up in their base D when the Bengals had a 4-wide set on the field; LeBeau also called for 3 straight "stabs" (OLB Blitzes) to end the drive.  Interpret how you wish.

Drive 5.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 35, 1:06, 2nd Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10         2-4-5                       (19)                     Clark                Pass Middle (Henry)       4-man

1&10         2-4-5                       (8)                       Farrior              Pass Left (Coats)            4-man

2&2           2-4-5                        (6)                       Taylor              Pass RIght (Caldwell)    4-man         DEF HOLDING - 26

1&10         2-4-5                       (11)                     26/92               Pass Middle (Caldwell)  5-man (Farrior Weakside C-Gap)

1&10         2-4-5                       (--)                       N/A                   Pass Right (85)                5-man (Farrior Strongside B)

2&10         2-4-5                       (--)                       92 tipped        Pass Middle (Leonard)   4--man (91/99 stunt)  +1 Harrison

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 35 to Pittsburgh 16, 49 yards total.  Defense on field for 1:06.

  • Obviously the Bengals were trying to get points before half, so the Steelers lined up in their 2-4-5 the entire time.  There was a simple 4-man rush before the Bengals got down into field goal range (Steelers 27) and then Farrior blitzed two plays in a row, creating a 5-man rush, before the final defensive play in which Smith and Keisel stunted.  Harrison knocked down a pass intended for fullback Brian Leonard, which, well....he'll come back into play later on in the game.  Cincinnati kicks a field goal, and it's now 13-3 Steelers; however, 3 plays into the second half, Ben throws a pick-six, closing the gap to 13-10.

Drive 6.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 42 [after Reed's missed 52 yarder], 11:48, 3rd Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10            B                         (2)                        Keisel               Run Middle (Benson)     4-man (56)     +1 Keisel

2&8              B                         (7)                        Woodley           Run Left (Benson)                             -Pursuit (Blown off ball)

3&1              B                         (-1)                      Gay                    Pass Right (Coles)                                    +1 Gay

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 42 to Midfield (50), 8 yards total.  Defense on field for 1:54.

  • Other than the 2nd down play where the front 7 got blown backwards, it was a good defensive series.  Keisel made a nice individual play on 1st down and Gay made a nice one on 3rd and 1, tackling the receiver for a loss of a yard after a quick throw from Palmer.

Drive 7.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 31,  2:54, 3rd Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10            B                          (3)                        Taylor               Pass Left (85)                 4-man (56)      91/98 Stunt

2&7              B                          (--)                        Timmons        Pass Left (85)     4-man (94/92 rush, 98 drop) +1 94; 3 WR

3&7              1-5-5                   (4)                        Carter               Pass Middle (Coles)    4-man (91, 94, 92, 26)

FAKE PUNT to PIT 41

1&10           B                          (9)                         Clark                Run Right (Benson)       Stab

2&1             B                          (-2)                        Harrison          Run Right (Benson)       Stab                +1 Harrison

3&3            1-5-5                    (--)                         N/A                    Pass Left (Benson)        4-man (99, 91, 51, 94)  +1 Carter

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 31 to Pittsburgh 34, 35 yards total.  Defense on field for 4:04.

  • The defense (for the 5th time this game) held the Bengals to a 3-and-out...and then the Bengals fake the punt.  After what could have been a game-changing play the defense took the field and held the Bengals to a 3-and-out (technically) once again.  Harrison makes a huge play on 2nd and 1 after the fake punt to keep Benson from getting a first down.

Drive 8.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 15 yard line, 12:45, 4th Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10            B                          (14)                     Gay                    Pass Right (Caldwell)    4-man (Harrison)

1&10            B                          (14)                     Taylor                Pass Right (85)               5-man (56, 94 C-Gap)

1&10            B                           (--)                      Clark                 PI on Clark, 17 yard penalty

1&10            B                           (8)                       Keisel              Run Left (Benson)           5, 94/51 ILB XFire

2&2              B                           (0)                       Harrison          Palmer Sacked                4-man (98 drop) +1 Harrison

3&2              2-4-5                    (9)                       Carter              Pass Left (Coles)             4-man (92), -1 Carter

1&10            1-4-6                    (23 TD)               None               Run Left (Benson)                                  -1 Carter

2 POINT      2-4-5                    (--)                       Woodley          Pass Right (Caldwell)    3-man           +1 Woodley

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 15 yard line to Pittsburgh goalline; 85 yards total.  Defense on field for 3:25.

  • Two big passing plays and a PI call on Clark to start the drive had the defense on reeling; the following play (8 yard run to Benson) the inside 'backers twisted as the blitzed, which helped spring Benson for those 8 yards.  Harrison then records his first sack of the season on a play which - by all rights - Palmer should have picked up the first down on; Harrison was literally a homing missile on this play, fighting past his block then flying through/past fellow defenders and blockers alike to toss Palmer down like a rag-doll.  Woodley must have been thinking "what the hell was that?", as he was the closest Steeler to Palmer when Carson took off, but Harrison rocketed past and recorded the sack, though it was for no gain.  Carter breaks down in coverage to enable the Bengals to gain a first down on 3rd and 2, and then again the next play by taking a horrific angle on Benson as he sprinted UNTOUCHED to the endzone.  I don't believe Carter is that bad...something tells me he wanted no part of Benson chugging full-tilt downhill.  Again, interpret how you wish.  Farrior blitzes to the strongside C gap then proceeds to get blocked/tackled as Benson skirts to his inside.  Woodley makes a nice play in reading the QBs eyes and knocking down the pass as he rushed on the 2-point try, though.

Drive 9.  Starting Point: Cincinnati 29 yard line, 5:14, 4th Quarter.

D 'n D    Formation          Total Yardage          Player               Play Type                          Rushers          Notes

1&10            B                           (3)                       Harrison          Run Right (Benson)     

2&7              1-4-6                    (17)                     Clark                Pass Right (Coles)        3-man (91, 99, 56)

1&10            2-4-5                    (5)                       Farrior              Pass Right (Benson)     4-man

2&5               B                           (8)                       Clark                Run Right (Benson)                             -Pursuit

1&10            1-5-5                    (9)                        Taylor              Pass Middle (Caldwell)  5-man (Keisel drop) -Pressure

2&1               B                           (1)                        Gang              QB Sneak (Palmer)      

1&10            2-4-5                     (--)                      Taylor               Pass Right (Caldwell)    4-man           +Taylor

2&10            2-4-5                     (8)                       Townsend      Pass Right (Caldwell)    4-man

3&2              1-5-5                     (--)                       Taylor              Pass Right (85)                6-man           +Taylor

4&2               2-4-5                    (5)                        Taylor              Pass Right (Coles)        4-man             -Ratliff (Coverage)

1&10            2-4-5                     (--)                       None                Spike

2&10            2-4-5                     (--)                       Taylor              Pass Middle (85)              4-man stunt     +Taylor

3&10            2-4-5                     (--)                       None               Pass Right (Henry)          5-man (Ratliff)    -Coverage

4&10            2-4-5                     (11)                     Farrior             Pass Right (Leonard)      4-man                 -Farrior (Tackle)

1&G4           2-4-5                      (--)                      None               Spike

2&G4           2-4-5                      (4)                      Farrior             Pass Middle (Caldwell)    4-man            -Farrior (Coverage)

2 POINT      2-4-5                      (2)                      NONE             Pass Right (Leonard)        4-man             -Coverage

 

Total Field Position Change: From Cincinnati 29 to Pittsburgh goalline, 71 yards total.  Defense on field for 5:00.

  • Ugh.  Defensive breakdowns left and right...it's bad when James Farrior, normally a rock for this defense, lets a fullback gets a first down on 4th and game, and when he lets a receiver settle in front of him while playing zone on 2nd and Goal from the 4.  Ike Taylor shut down his man this drive, knocking two passes away from #85 for the Bengals (whatever his name is now); Ratliff let up a 5-yard gain on 4th and 2 earlier in the drive as well.  The defense lined up in the 1-4-6 for the second time this game on the second play of the drive; instead of Ty Carter staying in the box, every dropped into coverage and the Steelers only rushed 3.  Also, notice the trend of completions? Right, right, right, right, the occasional middle...I'm not sure if these were open, if Palmer was picking on someone, or if he was trying to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid being crushed by man-beast Harrison.  Judging by the throws at Ike Taylor, I would say Palmer wanted the ball out of his hand as quick as possible.  Mr. Leonard was back, catching a pass for 11 yards on 4th and 10 as well as the 2-point conversion.

Bengals total time of possession: 25:18

Observations:

  • Coach LeBeau definitely adjusted his defense a little bit - they lined up in the 1-4-6 twice - which is where Ty Carter lines up in the box, along with a few more exotic blitzes from the linebackers and stunts from the lineman.  However, after 6 three-and-outs by the defense, they allowed a two-minute drill FG and, when it really counted, two TDs in crunch-time on the last two drives.
  • Going with the exotic blitzes,  it's good to see a little more variety in terms of who's blitzing from where.  Farrior shooting outside, Harrison slanting inside, Timmons lining up  outside Harrison...eventually, all the pressure is going to result in turnovers and sacks, as opponents are going to have to pick their poison.
  • What really can be said...a team, and in this case a defense, is only as strong as it's weakest link, and in this case, it's sure looking like Tyrone Carter.  Though he played well/was hidden effectively through most of the game, he was exposed on the game-winning drive.
  • I know this isn't defense-related, but at some point Bruce Arians is going to have to roll Ben out on a naked bootleg - there were 3 or 4 times against the Bengals where, on a running play, the backside end would completely ignore contain and shoot down the line.  This was especially effective with Odom, as he tackled Parker in the backfield two or three times while completely ignoring/blowing contain.
  • I don't want to seemingly over-react, but I believe this game against San Diego this Sunday night is a make-or-break, as a 1-3 start with 2 conference losses doesn't bode well for the playoff picture, and will no doubt uncover memories of the 2006 season we all have buried deep in our minds.

Ratings? Oh yes, ratings.

Name, Overall Season Rating, (Game Rating)

Harrison +13 (+3)

Smith +7 (+7)

Keisel +4 (+1)

Timmons +3 (+3)

Hampton +3 (+1)

Woodley +4 (+1)

Clark 0 (+1)

Farrior +1 (-1)

Carter -1 (-1)

Gay 0 (+1)

Taylor +2 (+3)

Polamalu +2 (N/A)

Fox -1 (N/A)

Ratliff -1 (-1)

 

Pursuit +4 (+1)

Pressure +4 (+2)

Contain +2 (+1)

Tackle -1 (-1)

Coverage -2 (-2)

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